Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Lower Bruckland Nature Reserve & Farm, Musbury, Devon

This was something I spotted when looking on the local OS Map: originally a site of old gravel pits, of which there were plentiful in this area of East Devon along with the pebble bed heathland further west. So, I set out in August 2008 for a rather nice, but rather long round trip walk of 5 miles, to have a look at it.


Formerly Lower Bruckland Fishery, the lakes were stocked with trout and used for angling, but in recent years it has become a haven for wildlife and its enthusiasts - bird watchers, walkers and photographers - and is now a nature reserve.

I visited here twice; once in August 2008 and again two years later in August 2010. Oddly enough, the weather conditions were very similar, with lowering clouds spiked with intermittent sunshine with the odd bit of blue sky...which is just the kind of weather I like for photography and walking.

There was a lot more to see on my second visit, with several additions...now four lakes including the original two, more small ponds, some interesting wooden features, new planting of trees and shrubs and the maturing of trees over the last two years. 

The two original large lakes are called Tringle Lake and Serpentine Lake, each some two acres in size which are supplied with natural water from the Bruckland Stream.


The photo below was taken on my first visit, looking back to the entrance from the lane over the stream. It was beautifully rustic and fairly overgrown.

On my second visit during August 2010 it had been replaced by a 'Health & Safety' bridge, below, with railings on both sides and a metal gate, which wasn't quite so charming. Hopefully it has or will wear gracefully and look more natural in time.

These photos were taken on my second visit and, although the weather was pretty similar, the photos came out differently.

After skirting the two nearer lakes I had a walk around the one seen below, which I didn't get so far around on my first visit.

One of the two larger lakes, there's a bird hide on an island reached via a wooden footbridge. On the far bank can be seen a water wheel.

Below, the water wheel set into the bank.

There are also several runnels, streams and even a small tumbling weir directing water from one lake into another. 

Wooden sculptures are some of several interesting features to be seen around the lakes and amongst the undergrowth. Plus some seating to sit and enjoy the views.

And short piers jutting out into the lakes.

Ducks on the lake, below. The building on the far bank is a cafe, which I only discovered on my second visit, and where I enjoyed a blackberry muffin and a cup of coffee whilst sitting at a rustic table beneath an apple tree...also under my umbrella, as it had begun to rain by then! ;) 

Lower Bruckland farm, below. Although modernised over the years, it still contains evidence of its 16th century origins such as the original flagstone, beams, inglenook fireplace and bread oven, and is a grade II Devon Longhouse.

The original longhouse would have comprised only one storey with a thatched roof, no chimneys or any of the above additions on the front.

We can see a bit more clearly from this side, below, that longhouses were built on a slope; in this case it shows two adjoining sections - the higher roof due to the new roofing and extra storey added on - whereas originally it would have been one long, low building. The lowest end contained the shippon where the animals were housed, the highest where the family lived.

Below, an old muck spreader outside the farm. On the opposite side of the lane is a wonderfully old plough share.

And two photos taken whilst going back down the lane afterwards.

Pretty, but very poisonous, below, a lot of Woody Nightshade in the hedges; a relative of the Deadly Nightshade. The Deadly Nightshade fruits are black though, whereas the Woody ones look like tiny tomatoes, which both plants are also related to.

One of the odd things about my scanner is that if the sky is mostly white, or very pale, it chops off the sky down to the horizon. So, I have to put another photo overlapping beneath it to provide a dark edge at the top. This is what I did with the two below and I liked them so much that I decided to keep a copy of them. See what you think. :)

A little explanation about having to scan prints. For those that don't know, I only ever use a 35mm film camera for all my decent photography. I do have a little Fuji Fine digital camera, which I only use for odd seasonal home & garden photos that I want to send in emails to relatives occasionally. There are so many reasons why I stick to 35mm cameras but mainly because I've been using them since I was 7 yrs old and they are a lot more pleasurable, as well as much easier, to use than digital for me. The whole thing of going to places, taking photos, getting the prints back from the printers and seeing what I've got, then scanning and photo-editing makes the visit hugely memorable and personal. Together with finding unusual and interesting landscapes and remains from the past, doing the research and writing articles, it makes for an exciting and very special interest. 

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this little meander around this special and little known nature reserve. :)